Binaural masking level difference in skilled reading children and children with dyslexia

Hanna Putter-Katz, Irit Feldman, Minka Hildesheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Combining stimuli arriving at both ears makes it possible to locate sounds in the environment and to better detect signals or understand speech in noise when the sound sources are separated spatially. The sensitivity of the binaural system to interaural differences in time and amplitude can be investigated by means of the binaural masking level difference (BMLD). The age at which the BMLD reaches adult levels appears to depend partly upon masker bandwidth. Less is known about the effect of masker's level on the development of BMLD in children. In the present study we assessed the effect of masker level on the BMLD of 3rd and 5th grade skilled reading children. In view of possible binaural hearing effects in dyslexia, the BMLD of a group of 5th grade children with reading difficulties was measured. Methods: Detection thresholds of 500 Hz pure tone were measured at noise levels of 40 dBHL, 50 dBHL and 60 dBHL. Results: All subjects presented increased MLD values with the rise of noise intensity between 40 dBHL and 60 dBHL. Among the skilled readers the results showed that younger children had smaller BMLDs than older children at all masker levels. However, a significant group-by-intensity interaction indicated that although the reading disabled group had reduced BMLD values than older skilled readers at noise levels of 50 dBHL and 60 dBHL, no difference was found between their BMLD values and those of the young skilled readers at noise levels of 50 dBHL and 60 dBHL. Moreover, their BMLD values at noise level of 40 dBHL were higher than those of the 3rd grade typically reading students while no difference was found between them and 5th grade efficient readers. Conclusions: These results support the existence of both quantitative and qualitative differences in binaural hearing of children with developmental dyslexia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-63
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2011


  • auditory/speech perception in noise
  • binaural hearing in children
  • binaural masking level difference
  • developmental dyslexia
  • time (temporal) auditory processing


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